HILLSBOROUGH, NJ – Patrolmen, detectives, some civilian employees, even a few ranking officers on the township police force have been looking pretty scruffy the past few weeks.
Despite a departmental edict that limits facial hair to mustache only, beards have sprouted throughout the ranks, although Police Chief Darren Powell shaved off his beard earlier this week.
“I couldn’t stand the itching,” Powell said.
Some of the beards are thick and respectable, others wispy and in the words of Capt. Charles Boyle, Operations Commander, “weak.”
“A lot of the guys are gray; some of the young guys with beards are pretty weak,” Boyle said.
Boyle also suggests there may be some “enhancement” in the ranks, with some officers applying Grecian Formula to their beards to chase away the gray.
This is the second year Powell has suspended the ban on facial hair.
Officers pay $20 each for the privilege of growing their beards, with the money to be donated to a local charity that supports male health issues. Powell said the department has not yet selected a charity to receive their donation.
In October, officers each paid $20 and wore pink ribbon lapel pins on their uniforms to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with the proceeds donated to Dance for the Cure, a local charity that supports that cause, according to Boyle.
Though he participated last year, Boyle chose this year to continue his weekly routine.
“Monday morning I shave, let it go the rest of the week, I go with that Don Johnson-Miami Vice 5 o’clock shadow look,’ he said.
The break from routine is good for morale, with lots of joking about the various levels of beard quality.
“Some of these guys look good,” Boyle said. “The young fellows wish they could all do it all year long, but I don’t think that’s coming any time soon,” he added.
There is one female police officer in Hillsborough, and she and other female civilian employees are wearing blue lapel pins in support of November’s cause.
The beards come off effective Saturday, Dec. 1 when the officers report for duty, according to Powell.